Monster Hunter is about to return to a handheld platform. Nintendo Switch owners will kick off 2021 with a new adventure, and a Monster Hunter Rise demo will provide a hint of what to expect. I was able to go through an early access build of it and see what its two tutorial quests and two hunts had to offer, and it feels like a trial designed to help you sharpen your blade before heading back into the fray. Plus, we get to see both new and old monsters.
First, Monster Hunter Rise demo continues the unfortunate trend of “we’ll let you test out a thing, but only X number of times.” In this case, I could take on a total of 30 quests. Once those were done, that was it. You’re playing isolated missions, so you can’t create a character and carry progress over. Though if you haven’t used up every number of quests, you can play offline once Capcom disables servers and access. You also have both solo and multiplayer options, with both of the hunts being rather doable in either scenario.
What I first noticed is, well, heading back into a Nintendo Switch Monster Hunter game takes some getting used to after playing for Monster Hunter World on the PlayStation 4. The staples are there. You need to think about your stamina. All of the weapons are back, so you can mostly fall back on your typical patterns. It’s more about getting used to, in the case of my experience, playing on a handheld on that smaller screen and anticipating actions when you have different button configurations, a new Palamute pal, and a Wirebug for different ways to move around and trigger attacks.
So right away, the Monster Hunter Rise demo offers tools to help you find your footing again. The Basic Training Quest is essentially a brief tour through the different actions and tasks you can perform. The stakes are low. You can experiment with riding the Palamute and picking up items while on its back without worrying about running into baddies. Some Izuchi will be around, but they’re as much of a threat as the Jaggi and Maccao we’ve seen before. Likewise, the Wyvern Riding Training Quest helps you get your bearings and learn new ways to mount a monster, perhaps with the help of a Wirebug. Both only take a few minutes if you rush through them, but offer a sense of freedom to get familiar with the controls and world. These opportunities, combined with a clear map and an indicator showing where my target was, helped as I started to wade into the trial.
The two “real” hunts here are the ones involving the Great Izuchi and the Mizutsune. In each case, we essentially have a mission plucked from the main game with some complete armor sets paired with the different weapon options. Great Izuchi is the game’s take on the traditional “a bird wyvern and all its little buddies are going to try and mess you up” task. It has a mixed of melee and ranged attacks, which could definitely throw off a newcomer when paired with the nuisance monsters surrounding it. Of the two quests, this is the one that felt most familiar. Which is helpful when you’re just getting situated.
The Mizutsune hunt is when things felt serious and new, even though it is only an intermediate level quest and this is a monster we’ve seen before. As I ran to the waters of zone 6, picking up helpful Spiribirds for boons as I ran past on the Palamute, it was walking my way. Granted, this meant I couldn’t really sneak up for an attack, but it did mean I could appreciate head-on how detailed the monster looked on the Switch and had a clear view of the different color bubbles it would shoot out as part of its attacks. For those unfamiliar with the beast, it might have you feeling like you’re facing a boss from NieR.
Admittedly, I fell in battle the first time facing Mizutsune, because I went into that quest immediately after challenging the first Monster Hunter Rise demo tutorial. Which is understandable, as it is dangerous. Its bubbles shoot out, can inflict status effects, and linger a bit on the field, and occasionally the creature will fire basically a water beam from its mouth. But it was to my benefit that I did falter, because when I returned to the first zone I was able to see Mizutsune fighting what appeared to a Rathian. (It could have been a Rathalos, though. I preferred to let it fight my battle for me a bit before jumping back in.) The opportunity let me watch, learn, and appreciate how both characters look here, so after my second wind I could successfully take it down.
The early access version of the Monster Hunter Rise demo felt like a game that learned a bit from Monster Hunter World, but was still ready to assure people it is the series they know. The trial gives you a chance to get acquainted with the series again, in case you missed the last entry, but offers a taste of how monster designs and gameplay might have changed. It’s a informative sample of things to come.
Monster Hunter Rise will launch on the Nintendo Switch worldwide on March 26, 2021. Before the game’s launch, people can download the Monster Hunter Rise demo starting in January 2021.